Tech and the law: Supreme Court and ‘no-harm’ lawsuits, Megaupload, Olympics trademarks

Oh, the legalities, part 2,956.

• The Supreme Court, which made big news Thursday, also dropped a case for which Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo and Zynga had filed a brief. The case, in which homeowner Denise P. Edwards sued her title insurer, First American Financial, over alleged illegal kickbacks to her title company, had implications for other class-action lawsuits against corporations. The big question: Should plaintiffs who can’t prove direct harm be allowed to sue? First American argued that they don’t, and the aforementioned Silicon Valley tech companies agreed. But the Supreme Court, which had agreed to hear the case at first, changed its mind.

No decision from the high court on this matter is “probably a win [for privacy],” Justin Brookman of the Center for Democracy and Technology told Forbes’ Kashmir Hill. That’s because Facebook and the others were thinking of the privacy pickles (a.k.a. lawsuits) they often find themselves in. In their brief (PDF), the companies said “Allowing plaintiffs to file such no-injury class action lawsuits could subject businesses … to damages demands that, at least on their face, would be potentially bankrupting.”

• Kim Dotcom got a boost Thursday after New Zealand’s high court ruled that the searches and seizures of hard drives of and from his home were illegal. Dotcom is the flashy founder of Megaupload, the file-sharing site that was shut down by U.S. authorities earlier this year. As GMSV mentioned earlier this week, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has criticized the United States’ anti-piracy efforts on this case, and has been seen around Dotcom. Dotcom still faces possible extradition from New Zealand, though, according to Reuters.

• Finally, on to the Olympics and trademarks. We mentioned on GMSV a couple of months ago that some are seeing the social-media and copyright and trademark rules surrounding the Summer Games in London as “draconian.” Here’s an example: The U.S. Olympic Commitee was reportedly forced to apologize after taking heat — angry knitters converged on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere — for sending sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ravelry, a social-networking site for knitters, over a knitting competition dubbed “Ravelympics” that it said violated its trademarks.  But it looks like the group changed the name of the games anyway.


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